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MTA Phone Interview Tips


The Door to Opportunity

Congratulations you have been chosen for a phone interview with one of MTA's clients. You have already accomplished a lot!  MTA's clients are some of the top Fortune 500 firms in the financial services industry. By making it through our prescreening processes as well as our client's screening processes it says a lot about your ability and experience.  We both like your story.  Now you need to make that story come alive and to convince the client that it was not a fictional story but your real life story. Remember for this moment you are a sales person selling the best product - you!

At this point you are going to be taking a phone interview, it maybe at the end of the phone interview the client will make you an offer, but that is probably unlikely.  Most likely this phone interview will just be a prescreen to make certain the story they have read on your resume is accurate; that you are able to clearly communicate your experience and that you are the type of person that they / the client want to have working with them.

Anticipating and attending an interview can be very stressful

It is an event that can have a huge impact on your life. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the phone interview.

·  Once you have been scheduled for a phone interview, locate a calm, quiet place where you can focus

Be cool. Be calm!

·  For the interview use a traditional landline phone - avoid using cell phones; cell phones are not reliable – there are dropped calls, static, signal losses, dead zones and the list goes on

·  If you're interviewing from your home, wear something closer to business clothes, you'll feel more professional; thus, you'll sound more professional

·  Throughout the interview smile, interviewers can hear you smile -- and smiling can put you in a better state of mind

·  If you feel your confidence wane, stand up. Standing can make your voice sound more powerful. And always remember to breathe, it will help you stay calm and sound more relaxed but do try avoid sounding like you are sighing

·  Review the Requirement; read the requirement thoroughly and be prepared technically

·  When the interview begins, it is best to confirm and acknowledge that the interview is focused on the requirement you have been given; for example if it is a Client reporting group, confirm with the manager that this is a Client reporting group; this will not only confirm that you and the interviewer are on the same page but also illustrate your interest in the position and that you have the ability to take the initiative

·  Be prepared not only technically but with examples or stories about where and how you used a specific technology

·  Review and read your resume thoroughly

·  Be prepared not only technically but with examples or stories about where and how you used a specific technology

·  If you are uncertain of the characteristics of the client you are interviewing with, research them or at the very least ask us here at MTA!

An interview is a conversation

Like any good conversation, a candidate can make an impression on the interviewer through the stories he shares about himself and his past projects. Below are several items to remember regarding personal stories, anecdotes and their use in interviews:

Let me tell you a story

·  For each of your primary skills, you should have a story; this includes both personal skills (such as your leadership or analytical skills) and technical skills (C++, Java, or UML)

·  They need to be about you, not a mentor or a colleague; they must be about your goals, your skills, your struggles, your achievements, and tell not only how you did something but why you did it

·  Just as you review and brush up on various systems and technologies before an interview, you need to prepare and have your stories ready to go before an interview

·  Keep the stories simple; they should last between 30 and 90 seconds

·  Rehearse them with someone, ensuring that they are on point and focused

·  Your stories must include not only how you did something, but why you did it

·  They need to focus on your core skills and expertise, and should affirm what you are bringing to the position

·  Stories need to illustrate your value to the firm, for example you can share that your ability as a leader led to the successful completion of a project ahead of schedule, or that your analysis led to increased functionality of a system

·  Be selective with your stories; consider them fully - a story that illustrates your competitive drive if not done right might lead the interviewer to the conclusion that you cannot work with others

·  Stories must be honest and sincere; they cannot evolve as you tell them, which comes from not only truthfulness but also preparation

Interviewing is a unique experience

Unlike how most of choose to live our lives, during an interview we cannot let our accomplishments speak for us.  You need tell people during an interview what you have accomplished and what you can accomplish for them!

Brag. . .boast about your achievements!

·  Brag about your achievements, your challenges and goals, now is not the time to be modest take credit for what you have done on past projects and share with the interviewer what you are capable of

·  Be able to explain not only how, but why you used that technology; for example- On my last assignment we chose to use Java because it runs on all platforms as opposed to ….

·  Review skills, especially if it is one you have not used in your current project and be able to cite technology and reference examples of where, how, and why you used it

·  Remember you get only one chance to make the impression; do not guess about the skills, stay focused on the things you know best

·  Remember that the phone and communication is bi-directional, not only to provide information on you but can also provide information to you

·  Keep a copy of your resume in front of you while taking the phone interview, so that when the interviewer refers to your experience, you can both literally be on the same page

·  Do not hesitate to ask the interviewer to repeat a question; as opposed to guessing at what he or she said

·  Be prepared to talk about your recent projects complete with examples of what you did, how you did it and why, and likewise be prepared for follow up questions probing those technologies and your depth of knowledge of them

·  When the question is about what you did in a particular project, you need to provide not only how you did it but why you did it; for example: While I was working for company XYZ, I was working in their system group supporting a Derivative system, the client needed to add functionality to the system because of recent governmental regulation changes, the system was written in Java. I was responsible for making changes to _____ and that technology was used because of ______

 ·  When an interviewer asks you why they should hire you, you must speak confidently and honestly about your abilities, which is achieved by knowing your goals, your skills and your achievements; you need to acknowledge your abilities and accomplishments such as having a very strong work ethic, integrity, excellent industry experience, and that you can aggressively pursue your goals Stress your strengths!

 ·  Highlight and elaborate on your strongest skills, both technical and personal, especially the ones required by this project

· If you have not worked with a specific technology or business area keep your answers short and concise and try talking about the skills that you are more confident about

·  Remember that most interviews will tend to ask follow up questions on what you are talking about.  Remember to try to get the conversation back to your strengths.  Avoid a lengthy discussion on things you are not comfortable with

Here are some common interview questions; be prepared for them!

Take the time to formulate answers to each question, focusing on specific tasks and accomplishments.

·  Why did you leave your last job? Interviewers will always want to know your reasoning behind leaving a company especially after working for only a few months. Tell the truth, without speaking negatively about past employment.

·  Why do you want to work here? Always answer truthfully. If you know someone who works/has worked there and has had a good experience, say so. Knowing the companies products or services that you can relate to, and discussing them in a positive way is a very good answer. Location of where you'll be working can be an important factor if the commute is reasonable.

·  What are your strengths and weaknesses? This is one of the most well-known interview questions, and interviewers often ask indirectly, as in, "What did your last boss suggest as areas for your improvement during your last review?" Answer in a way that your strengths" will benefit the prospective employer. Although you may be a great cook, it might be of little value for the job at hand.

·  What is your most significant accomplishment? Try to quantify your contributions in your past performances. You may have developed or improved a program that enabled the application to run in less time, saving considerable money. Accomplishments should be quantified as best you can to show your ability to do the same as a future employee.

·  Can you give an example of how you have handled a mistake? Everyone has made a mistake in on a job. Don't say you never have made a mistake.  That would imply that you haven't done anything. Focus on one or two events, emphasizing the resolution you implemented to correct the problem, and how well everything worked out.

·  What is your ideal work environment? This question is geared toward your productivity, not your comfort level. Don't say you work best in a private office.  You may emphasize that an environment where you can get and share information easily that will help you and other employees accomplish tasks in an efficient and friendly cooperative way would be an ideal work environment.

As the interview ends:

Be sure to ask the interviewer when they anticipate making a decision. Reiterate your interest in the position and your enthusiasm for the company. Thank the interviewer graciously for his time.  Ask them what the next step or steps will be.

Next Steps in the Interview and Hiring Process

After the interview please contact your MTA recruiter ASAP with your thoughts and feedback on the interview.  It is best if we hear from you before we hear from the client.

Good luck, remember to follow these tips. Remember that client is just as hopeful as you are that the interview works out favorable.  Be confident! 

Remember for this moment you are sales person selling the best product you!


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